Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
12th December, 2018
Well, our call to Dover went smoothly and efficiently, allowing some 370 passengers to disembark in the morning, with a similar amount embarking again in the afternoon. Some 30 passengers were enjoying themselves that much, that they decided to remain on board and join us for the following cruise. Also that day, we had around 15 crew members change over, and we loaded some 60 pallets of food & drinks for everyone – Saga passengers are normally a rather hungry & thirsty lot…
As soon as everyone was on, had located their cabins and gorged upon their first taste of the cruise (afternoon tea) then it was time to hold our mandatory safety drill, where everyone proceeds to their muster stations and sits listening to me talk for a while. No doubt a slightly disappointing part of the afternoon for many, safety is our number 1 priority here at Saga and so this little muster is of paramount importance. Once it was over however, the fun begins with a traditional champagne sail-away on the aft deck, where we can wave goodbye (to the final time, for little Saga Pearl 2) to the port of Dover and those famous white cliffs.
The following day was spent heading north through the North Sea, with temperatures slowly decreasing as one would expect. Still, despite cooler climes outside, there was of course masses going on inside the ship as always, and that evening we held out traditional Captain’s Welcome cocktail do in the Discovery Lounge, where passengers are asked to endure a dubiously humourful presentation by the Captain before the highlight of the evening – a feast including steak & lobster put on by our team of 40 chefs.
Wednesday morning saw a culinary presentation by TV celebrity Caribbean chef Rustie Lee, as we arrived at the mouth of Oslofjord. 55 miles or so at the other end lay our destination: Oslo. A pleasant passage up the fjord saw us arrive at our berth just a stone’s throw from the city centre just after 15:00 – and a wintery scene it was indeed, with several inches of snow on the ground and an outside temperature of just -4oC. Those who wished were immediately whisked off on tours, including an exciting performance of the Nutcracker Ballet in the local opera house.
That evening, I decided to wander off with the Chief Engineer Mark and Cruise Composer Kayeigh. We wrapped up warm (for it was now -7oC) and crunched our way the few hundred metres into the town centre. There in the park lay a lovely winter scene, fairy lights everywhere and a large ice rink surrounded by dozens of stalls offering all sorts of local delights for purchase.
As we wandered past a stall offering the bizarre combination of mulled wine and pork scratchings, I decided to stop and treat the other two as a hot drink was definitely required to warm the tootsies. Having handed over a small fortune in return for our hot beverage with tiny snack, (Oslo was recently voted the 2nd most expensive city in the world) Mark exclaimed that it tasted of ‘warm Ribena.’ Upon enquiring, we discovered that it was illegal to drink alcohol on the streets of Norway!
We wandered for a while around stalls where I purchased some reindeer and whale sausage, before we spotted a stall selling fantastic looking Elk burgers. It was Kayleigh’s turn to fork up the cash now, as my credit limit had already been reached after our first purchase. Once Kayeligh’s bank manager had approved the transaction, we were handed our wholesome burgers and feasted accordingly, sitting on a fur-covered bench next to a lovely pan fire. Mark was next to be dispatched – this time to hunt for a glass of proper bona fide mulled wine, which he managed to purchase within a ‘secure’ street stall nearby for a bargain price of about £30 and smuggle out for our prompt consumption!
The following day dawned snowy, and passengers eagerly made their way into town or further afield on tours after breakfast on board. There were organised visits to an Ice Bar, scenic tours around the town itself, a maritime highlight excursion for those old salts, and even a ‘Festive Mystery Tour’ – which I later found out took passengers to a very festive little Christmas Village somewhere in the Norwegian countryside.
That evening, an hour or so after the winter daylight had died, it was time to sail back down Oslofjord and into the eastern North Sea. We would head south overnight, back into temperature slightly above freezing, en route to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!
Captain Kim Tanner
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